SEPTEMBER 1995 BACK ISSUE
Part of Horse Previews Magazine website. Posted on 9/1/95; 10:00:00 AM.
About the Peruvian Paso...
Origin of the Peruvian Paso
The Peruvian Paso is a truly unique breed of horse but only during the past ten years has it been well known in the United States. In Peru, they have been cherished and selectively bred for centuries. The ancestors of the present day Peruvian horse came from Spain with Pizarro and were of Andalusian, Friesian, Barb and Spanish Jennet blood. These horses were largely credited by historians with the fall of the centuries old Inca Empire as they gave the Conquistadores a distinct advantage over the natives. Horses were reportedly so valuable that many were shod with silver and young foals were carried by porters in "hammocks" during the long, forced marches.
As Lima became the Vice Royalty of New Spain, the owners of Peru's large haciendas favored horses with fast, smooth gaits. Generations of strict selection have genetically fixed these traits and the breed can guarantee 100% transmission of its gait to all purebred foals. A major principle with Peruvian breeders is that great Peruvian horses are born - not trained. Training is designed to bring out the animal's inherent ability but not modify it artificially. To help insure retention of completely natural action and gait, no horse is allowed in the show ring with shoes or with hooves longer than 4 inches. All Peruvian breeders use basically the same training methods and equipment so that no advantage is gained through artificial devices or aids. If a horse will not collect properly or can't be managed with a mild bit, he is not deemed suitable for breeding. If a horse lacks termino, well known exercises to increase termino are not used as this would only prolong the fault in future generations. The guiding philosophy is that it is easier to cull undesirable qualities immediately than to deal with them in future generations.
The gait of the Peruvian Paso is a broken pace which gives the rider neither the vertical movement of the trot nor the lateral motion of the pace. It is undoubtedly the smoothest ride in the horse world. Another "trademark" characteristic of the Peruvian horse is "termino" or the outward rolling of the front limb during extension. This showy action gives the Peruvian horse the appearance of always being "on parade" and is also completely natural due to selective breeding. It is not a wing or paddle and originates in the shoulder giving the horse the ability to swing the leg forward with minimum vertical force to the back.
The Peruvians did not breed exclusively for gait, Disposition was equally important. The horses were used for transportation and riders did not want to deal with temperamental, stubborn or nervous horses. In fact, the disposition of the Peruvian horse is probably his most appealing virtue, although the smooth gait is probably more renowned. As a result of strict culling, the Peruvian horse is intelligent, tractable and eager to please. However, he has retained the presence and arrogance of his war horse ancestors. The modern day Peruvian horse still "travels like a conqueror." The Peruvian Paso comes in all the basic colors: black, brown, bay, chestnut, gray, palomino, buckskin and roan. They boast a long, luxurious mane and tail. Size ranges from 14 to 15.3 hands with the average being about 14.3. Since their importation to North America, many Peruvian Pasos have proven their ability to adapt to all climates and they are quite easy keepers.
For knowledgeable horsemen, the Peruvian Paso is an enigmatic blend of extremes. They have the fire of the old Spanish warhorse and yet are noted for tractability. The Peruvian Paso combines the world's smoothest gait with the most spectacularly stylish action known to the equine breeds. It is an animal of refined beauty with the strength to cover many miles a day - year after year. These are the qualities genetically locked in by centuries of selection
The Peruvian Paso, in a few short years, has gained tremendous recognition and popularity in the United States. They are in use for show, pleasure, trail, endurance and parade riding. Breeders in this country have already exported horses to Europe, Australia, the Orient and Canada. Owners have an important part in the future of this breed and are not merely statistics. They also have the privilege of preserving a unique breed which could never be duplicated.
Paso Fino / Peruvian Paso
While the Peruvian horsemen were developing their native horse, other countries in Central and South America were also breeding horses from original Spanish stock. These later became known as the Paso Fino breed. Although these horses originated from the same foundation bloods, they were bred for different purposes and characteristics. Over the ensuing 400 years they have become a distinct breed. These horses are not bred for termino as are the Peruvian horses and their gait does not require the length of stride so essential for traveling long distances. Also, the Peruvian Paso can guarantee 100% transmission of its gait to all purebred foals.
For more information on the Peruvian Paso please contact the Peruvian Paso Horse Registry of North America, 3077 Wiljan Court, Suite A, Santa Rosa, CA 95407-5702. Telephone (707) 579-4394, Fax (707) 579-1038